Strict water management plans for farmers amidst dry spell | Daily News

Strict water management plans for farmers amidst dry spell


The Irrigation Department has decided to implement a very strict water management plan this year to reduce crop failure in the face of a dry spell that could possibly lead to a heavy drought by the middle of this year.

Irrigation Department Water Management and Training Director Eng. S. Mohanarajah told the Daily News yesterday that they were canvassing the farmers to start the Yala cultivations

before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year to overcome the drought problem.

He said as of the meteorological information available they could hardly expect rainfall throughout the Yala season.

"We cannot expect enough rain until about October. Therefore, whatever the water we have in our reservoirs, must be managed carefully for irrigation and drinking purposes. If there is no rain, the priority will be to provide water for drinking purposes," he said.

Mohanarajah said the farmers have been advised to reduce the extent of their cultivations, if they are unable to advance them before the April New Year.

"If the farmers delay the cultivations, the crop will go up to about August-September. Then there will be a problem. We have already informed the Project Management Committee and regional irrigation engineers to limit the extent of such cultivations," he said.

Mohanarajah said the Department was also promoting other field crops rather than paddy, as of the directive of the President, because the country already has excessive stocks of paddy in the stores.

"We are self-sufficient in rice, but we import many other field crops. This Yala season we are promoting other field crops such as green gram, undu, corn, vegetables and banana etc. We do not need to issue water for the land preparation of these crops. We can save water through these means as well," he said.

The Director assured the Irrigation Department could successfully manage the water until about October. "It is not a problem for us for the time being. Almost all the reservoirs, except a few in Vavuniya, Monaragala and Mannar, have more than 80 percent of the capacity as of now. Especially, very large reservoirs such as Parakrama Samudraya and Senanayake Samudraya have full capacity. There is a 780,000 acre feet of water in the Senanayake Samudraya as of now. We can manage about 200,000 hectares of land this year without a problem with the water available," he said.

Mohanarajah reminded the country faced a similar drought in 2014, adding that only the Batticaloa district could overcome the drought problem successfully that year. "It was a good lesson to us. We could overcome the drought in Batticaloa because we started the cultivations early," he said.

He said regular cultivation meetings, group meetings and awareness classes were in progress to inform the farmers on the current situation and the plans for the next harvesting season.Meanwhile, according to the Disaster Management Centre Situation Report, 935 people in 280 families in the Kegalle district have currently been affected by the dry weather. They are being provided with the drinking water. 


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